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Domestic Biographies

Stowe, Howells, James, and Wharton at Home


Elif S. Armbruster

Domestic Biographies: Stowe, Howells, James, and Wharton at Home presents comparative domestic biographies of four American Realist writers: Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Dean Howells, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. Drawing upon extensive primary sources to reconstruct the authors’ private lives, Domestic Biographies illuminates how they lived when no one was looking. In particular this book examines how the authors worked and wrote at home and how their home life in turn made its way into their novels and non-fiction. Domestic Biographies offers an innovative and exciting architectural and domestic lens through which to study the lives and literature of America’s best-known Realists.


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Acknowledgments xi


i I feel extremely privileged to be a part of the English Department at Suffolk University. Had it not been for the unmitigated support of the Chair of my department, Dr. Anthony Merzlak, and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Kenneth Greenberg, this project never would have come to fruition. I was very fortunate to receive from my department and the College of Arts and Sciences the financial and research assistance I needed so that I could better complete this project. Every day I feel grateful to be surrounded by my intellectually active and kind colleagues. Special thanks to Andrew Butler, Jeremy Solomons, and Keith Wise, who answered innumerable requests, large and small, with cheerful alacrity. Thank you to my students, off of whom I bounced many of the ideas in this book, for being such an important part of my work and for keeping me on my toes. I am very grateful to my family, friends, and colleagues who read earlier versions of this project and whose comments helped improve its final shape. Especially helpful and close readings were provided by Katherine Wolff, Jeanne Slater, Sofia Gearty, and my mother, Paula Armbruster. I thank David Schuyler and Jill Lepore for their comments on earlier versions of the Stowe and Howells chapters, respectively. I owe the origins of this project to my mother whose conception and meaning of home has infiltrated my psyche since I was a child. It was in my mother’s house, thanks to...

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